Climate Change Impacts all of U.S., warns National Climate Assessment

For the third time since 2000, the federal government has issued a National Climate Assessment, as mandated by Congress in 1990, to “understand, assess, predict, and respond" to climate change. The report was approved by President Obama on Tuesday.
May 6, 2014, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The report, the National Climate Assessment, was prepared by a large scientific panel overseen by the government. The report was unveiled at the White House, and President Obama planned to spend part of the day highlighting the findings in interviews with television weather forecasters around the country," writes Justin Gillis. Previous assessments were released in 2000 and 2009, as well as numerous intermittent ones, accessible here. A draft of this assessment was released last year and posted here.

The assessments were initiated under President George H. W. Bush in 1989 and "mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990 to 'assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change'.”

The report shows that impacts are "being felt in every corner of the United States" as opposed to being felt only in future years, as once thought. "If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, (the scientists) said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century," writes Gillis.

The administration hopes to use the report to shore up public support for the president’s climate policies as he attempts to put new regulations in place to limit emissions. A major political battle over the rules is expected this summer, with Republicans already accusing Mr. Obama of plotting a “war on coal.”

"However, scientists involved in the report said there had been no political interference in their work. In fact, they went beyond any language the president has used as they cataloged risk," adds Gillis.

While impacts may be inescapable throughout the U.S., that doesn't mean they are equally felt. "The impact is uneven in the United States. Some states are warming faster than others," writes Ben Schiller, staff writer for Co.Exist. Readers can click on any state in a map in the article to see the annual temperature increase since 1970.

The national assessments should not be confused with international reports on climate change prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N. panel.

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Published on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 in The New York Times
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